Sunday, 31 August 2014

Fungus Foray 2014

Although it's still only August ( well just) it really feels like autumn is here.

So a day of picking  - a trip in search of blackberries, sloes and hawthorn berries along with anything else we could find.

What we found is that the fungus season has definitely started. I am hopeless at identifying them though ...

These were the first we came across. Like little prickly balls - common puffball?

Couple of these - lovely orange colour

 A real fairy ring!

Not a clue!

Easier to identify where the common field mushroom but as I already had several in the fridge ( from the supermarket!) we left them growing.

In the end the trip provided us with hawthorn berries, sloes for gin, some bittersweet berries to plant in the garden, some yew berries and some wild hops and comfrey.  All in all a very satisfactory walk even if not the most photogenic.

 Finally   this little chap - just because I like him...!!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Virtuous Well

I've been here before but no apologies for that - some places are worth a return visit - The Virtuous Well at Trellech being one of them.

It's had a bit of a tidy up since our last visit and all the detritus of spent offerings removed. We also didn't have the curious horse "helping" with the visit!

 The Virtuous Well is also known as St Anne's Well ( maybe originally named for Black Annis in the pre Christian years?)

The water is said to cure eye diseases and illnesses peculiar  to women.

It is also believed that the water from the well runs under the 3 Trellech standing stones and thus was part of the "druidic rites" performed there.  Might be a bit of a stretch that one but who am I to argue with the Cadw information board.  It is also believed (says Cadw) that fairies dance around the well at Midsummer.

Last tine the water in the well looked very unappealing; no way would I wanted to have put some in my eyes no matter how desperate I was. This time however the water was crystal clear and had clearly been used as a wishing well by someone.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Blackbury Camp

I'm going back a few months here. The remains of hurricane Bertha is making herself felt, sudden downpours, intermittent howling gales and the odd clap of thunder made a walk seem very unappealing. Not to mention the half finished decorating which has turned the house upside down.

So a Sunday at home it was. Having amused myself with some housework and supervising the decorator (!) I was also sorting out a website for a friend (Underworld Apothecary if you want to take a look) so not that relaxing.

Looking back through my files I found some pictures of Blackbury Camp. These were taken in late April when the bluebells were out.

 This is the remains of an iron age hill fort, It was excavated in the 1950s. According to English Heritage they believe that it was the defended stronghold of a wealthy family - a lot of sling stones were found here. The domestic angle is supported by the remains of local pottery and cooking pits and an oven as well as a hut.

Now the site is covered with woodland which makes it hard to imagine what it would have been like. Oh and bluebells. Lots and lots and lots of them...

I can safely say that  I have never seen so many bluebells. There must have been millions of them carpeting the area.

It was early evening when I took this and the light was starting to fail.

This is not the biggest of hill forts, more compact but it is still in reasonably good condition given that it has been reclaimed by the trees. It is possible to walk round the whole ramparts in 10 or 15 minutes but the temptation is to linger..

And yet more bluebells! Fortunately there were tracks clear of them as it would have been a real shame to have to walk over them ( although sadly plenty of the visitors and their dogs were). For early evening and starting to get cold it was still remarkably busy.

Well worth a visit in April/May if you like bluebells!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Lydney - Temple to Nodens

Temporarily grounded this weekend due to the bathroom redecoration project. I keep telling myself it WILL be worth it!

Fortunately due to the 3 month break I do have some trips that I haven't yet blogged on so this week it is the Lydney Park Estate and the Roman temple there. The park has very restricted opening so for much of the year the temple is not accessible to the general public and it won't be open again until Easter 2015.

The Estate is worth visiting for the spring gardens alone. I love the way the bulbs have been naturalised into the grass here at the entrance to the car park.

As usual of course the only way is up. The temple is sited at the top of the hill probably to give a clear view of the Severn Bore when it goes up the river twice a day. It is also within the confines of an iron age hill fort which may also have had something to do with the choice of site.

Did stop a few times to admire the view across the estate. It was a fairly steep climb in places!

Well worth it though. It is a classically styled Roman temple dedicated to the Celtic God Nodens. He is linked with healing, the sea, dogs and hunting. The mosaics survive but are covered by earth and turf and we had to content ourselves with the pictures in the small museum inside the house itself.

He may also have been in the curse business as a lead curse tablet was found  "For the god Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring and has donated one-half [its worth] to Nodens. Among those named Senicianus permit no good-health until it is returned to the temple of Nodens)"

As well as the Temple, there is a surviving Bath house which would have been part of the temple complex.

Descending back towards the gardens themselves we came across a couple of statues guarding the entrance to the gardens. Whilst the temple probably dates from 364CE and was in use to maybe around 500CE, the date of these are uncertain.  They were originally thought to be Roman but are possibly 16th or 17th century.  Likewise the identities are also unknown  - this is possibly Pan  according to the English Heritage Protection listing

The same source lists this as the Empress Faustina.  They are now sited quite a way from the temple complex but were formerly more closely associated. Her hairstyle reminds me very strongly of a statue at the Temple of Sulis in Bath
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